Two-wheelers are some of the most used vehicles in India due to their affordable prices, good mileage and ease of use. Since the two-wheelers are used so frequently, people often make some changes to improve the comfort, performance or aesthetics of their bikes.
Even though one could argue that the modifications made are justified, they may violate the traffic rules the government set. Though harmless, most of the changes could get you in serious trouble if you are not sufficiently aware of the laws around the modifications of two-wheelers. This might seem absurd when thought of superficially. However, after giving it a bit of introspection, you will realise that these changes are for the greater good of society.
If you are also planning on making modifications to your two-wheeler, here are some of the rules you have to be cognizant of:
What Kind of Modifications are Deemed Illegal by the Road Traffic Law?
According to a high court ruling in January 2019, any kind of structural change to the bike is prohibited. The details of a vehicle's basic structure are outlined in the RC book provided by the local RTO.
Here is the information found in the RC book:
- Vehicle Registration Number
- Vehicle Registration Date
- Vehicle Chassis Number
- Vehicle Engine Number
- Vehicle Colour
- Vehicle Weight
- Vehicle's Wheelbase
- Vehicle Seating Capacity
- Owner's Signature
- Owner's Name
- Vehicle Class
- Fuel Type
- Engine Capacity in CC
- Vehicle Maker/Vehicle Model
- Fitness / REGN Expiry Date
- MV Tax Details
- PUC Expiry Date
- Emission Norms
- RC Status
- Whether the Vehicle is Financed or Not
Why has the Indian Traffic Law Become So Stringent with the Modifications?
With the changes to two-wheelers, Indian traffic laws have become much stricter for several reasons. First, the law is meant to protect both drivers and pedestrians. Drivers often do hit-and-run because they know their actions won't be caught if the vehicle has been changed so much that it can't be recognised. As a result, victims can suffer long-term physical and emotional injuries without any protection because the driver can get away without being caught.
Safety is the second reason. Many people go too far with their modifications, like cutting the bike's tubes to make it longer or changing the fuel tank. In some cases, people alter their vehicles so much that the original structure can't be found. This can cause accidents, leading to serious injuries or even death for drivers and pedestrians. By making it harder to make changes, the law hopes to protect people.
What Kind of Modifications are Still Legal as per the Law?
1) The Court decided that it is legal to paint a vehicle in any colour that the RTO has approved. It paves the way for you to change the colour of your bike, which means that you are no longer restricted from doing so.
You can wrap your two-wheeler or give it new paint as long as you have the authorisation to perform either of these changes from the appropriate regional RTO. If you do not have this approval, you will not be allowed to do either of these modifications.
2) In order to comply with the legislation, only the smallest of modifications and adjustments may be made, such as adding a tail tidy to reduce the length of the vehicle, windscreen, sporty decals, sump guard, etc.
3) If the manufacturers give different standard tyres for the basic model and the top variation, then it is permissible to change the tyres on the vehicle. This rule does not apply if different models of bikes come with the same kind of tyres. After that, you can replace the tyres with ones that are exactly matched to those that come standard on the most expensive model.
4) Engine replacement is another option; however, to do so, you will first need to have consent from the RTO. This is the case regardless of whether the present engine is in working order or satisfies the prerequisites for carrying out operations in a risk-free manner. To begin changing out the engine, you will first have to submit an application for re-registration, requiring you to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the RTO. After completing the engine swap, you can submit the paperwork necessary to re-register the vehicle.
The engine number of the bike is hard coded to the engine chassis of the bike. Criminals usually swap out the engine of the stolen vehicle with some other chassis. So the RTO has made it almost impossible to change the engine as such. But under a really dire circumstance where there is no other option but to change the engine of the vehicle, for example, when the engine blows up, the company will have to change the engine. If the engine swap has been made without any reason, the vehicle owner would be fined heavily and, in certain cases, will even have to serve jail time.
Steps to Follow to Change the Colour of the Bike
1) You first need to make a trip to the authorised RTO under whose authority your vehicle is registered. You will need to present them with your registration certificate, as well as a colour swatch and furnish them with the details of the colour you would like to be applied.
2) You would be required to fill out the NAMV form, which stands for notice of alteration of the motor vehicle and get approval from the RTO authorising you for the colour change.
3) Once you have the RTO approval, get the vehicle painted or wrapped.
4) Finally, take the newly painted vehicle to the RTO, where the RTO officer will verify the colour change and amend it to the RC book of the bike.
The stricter regulations will likely continue as more people modify their two-wheelers without following the correct procedures. In addition, it is possible that the government may start fining people for modifying their vehicles in ways that are not allowed by law. Additionally, your two-wheeler insurance premium will also rise if you make the wrong modification. In extreme cases, the bike insurance policy can also be cancelled. So, ensure that you inform your insurer of all the changes done to your two-wheeler.